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Downtown Orlando is the beating heart of the city, where you can enjoy long romantic strolls around Lake Eola, go bar hopping or attend one of the lively annual events. You’ll find an array of activities to keep you busy, from cultural activities and museums to renowned restaurants and buzzing nightlife options. Offering a great introduction into “The City Beautiful”, here are the best things to do in Downtown Orlando.
In the heart of downtown Orlando you’ll find Lake Eola Park, a picturesque recreational epicenter of family-friendly events and activities throughout the year. A perfect spot for budget-savvy travelers visiting Orlando, you can stroll through the walking trails, feed the swans, and enjoy free concerts held at the amphitheater. Here you can also explore the hip neighborhood of Thornton Park surrounded by trendy restaurants and boutiques. Don’t miss the Sunday farmer’s market where you’ll find a beer and wine garden, live music, and fresh pastries.
Looking for a frozen treat on one of Orlando’s sunny days? Head to Pop Parlour. Inspired by their grandfather who made ice cream back in the 1970s, every one of their pops is served from real, high-quality ingredients by hand and the fruit used in them are brought in fresh and broken down by the staff as opposed to using frozen puree. You can pick from boozy, creamy or fruity in your popsicle flavors, from the Mango Rum, Pineapple Mimosa and Bourbon Peach to creamy-based Bananas Foster or year-round Arnold Palmer.
If you’re looking for a dose of culture when exploring Downtown Orlando, head to Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts to see live shows like “The Lion King”, while they also feature concerts like “Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back” with the Orlando Philharmonic Orchestra. The theatre is considered a hub for both international and local artists, where you can sit the 2,700-seat Walt Disney Theater or catch a live concert in the historic Bob Carr Theatre.
If you’re a history buff, you might enjoy a tour of one of Florida’s most kid-friendly museums, the Orange County Regional History Center. The family-friendly attraction offers you a chance to learn about Central Florida’s history through an array of fascinating exhibits that highlight anything from aviation to theme parks, African American history and our natural environment. Browse through the four floors of exhibits and immerse yourself in how Florida’s indigenous peoples lived for thousands of years before the arrival of Europeans from the Old World in the 16th century.
Located in the heart of Downtown Orlando, the CityArts Factory boasts an eclectic collection of art galleries, showcasing an infusion of local and international works of art that is rotated on a monthly basis. You can enjoy free admission Tuesday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., where you’ll have the chance to admire work in the Kiera & Scarlett Kiene Community Gallery the Redefine Gallery and the Magic Gallery.
There are an array of dining options to choose from in Downtown Orlando, from Sunday brunches at Dexters to bingo at Hamburger Mary’s. Enjoy modern American fare at Artisan’s Table, indulge in Thai specialties at Napasorn Thai Restaurant or head to Kres Chophouse for succulent steaks. Tin and Taco has your Mexican cravings covered, while Wahlburgers is known for their specialty burger meals and cocktail menu.
Whether you’re a sports fan or just want to mingle with locals, don your best team-colored threads to one of Orlando’s biggest sporting events. You can watch an intense game of hockey and cheer on the Solar Bears or put on a jersey and root for the Orlando Magic at the Amway Center. Don’t miss one of Orlando’s lively soccer matches, where you can join a sea of locals dressed in purple, celebrating another Orlando City Soccer win.
Need a laugh? Laugh until your cheeks hurt at SAK Comedy Lab in Orlando. Experts in improvisation will test their skills, and with plenty of audience participation, as there are no two shows that are alike. The unpredictability of the comedians will impress you as they burst into spontaneous skits and songs created on the spot. Check their events calendar for cover charges ranging from free to $20, as there is a show for every budget.
If you want a quick lesson on how to sling drinks like the bartenders do in Downtown Orlando, sign up for the cocktail class at The Courtesy. Here you can learn the proper way to make your favorite classic cocktails and the history behind them. Afterward, you can sit and enjoy your own creation or order one of the many handcrafted cocktails on their menu. Kick back and enjoy the cool speakeasy vibes.
Take a stroll through Thornton Park District and you’ll discover an array of sidewalk shops that are just a few blocks from Downtown Orlando. Its cobblestone streets are lined with laid-back restaurants, including Soco Thornton Park with its Southern comfort dishes, alfresco seating at Dexters and ample burgers and creative cocktails at The Stubborn Mule. If you’re looking for signature rolls and sashimi dishes, head to Shari Sushi Lounge.
If you want to dig deeper into Downtown Orlando’s biggest secrets, join a walking tour, where you can explore the area’s history, art, dining and learn something new about The City Beautiful. Want to hear a spooky story? Join the American Ghost Adventures tour to learn about unsolved mysteries, while Downtown Historic Tour leads you through some of the area’s most historic landmarks. There’s plenty of food tours for those who enjoy culinary experiences, art tours for exploring the various galleries in downtown and even craft cocktail tours that can get boozy.